Top Gear S24 Episode 1 Review: New Beginnings

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Top Gear Series 24
No, we wanted more flair, nor more flares...

The build-up for the new series of Top Gear almost feels non-existent. In fact, I only found out the start date last week, and I’m not the sort of person who lives under a rock. I approached the last series of Top Gear with a completely open mind, but sadly it failed to deliver. My views on that can be found on my old site (I’m still in the process of doing that).

***Warning, this will contain spoilers***

New Beginnings

The trailers of the new series suggested that the presenting team would consist of just Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid, with Sabine Schmitz and Eddie Jordan no longer taking part. I’m sad to lose the former as I liked her charm and outgoing personality, but I’m not too bothered about the latter.

So the new series has the familiar three presenter lineup, but don’t think that show is still struggling with an identity crisis. There are new titles to start the show and there is even a new studio, which I think looks fantastic, and I hate to say this, but it looks the old one look somewhat dated. There is plenty of strobe lighting and the design is more minimalistic, plus there is a massive red Top Gear logo upon a black background. I wonder whey they got that idea from?

Harris Back Doing What He Does Best

The show kicks off in style as Chris Harris takes the uber-exclusive Ferrari FXX K around the Daytona International Raceway. As always, Harris does a great job of drawing you in with his honest-to-God motoring knowledge with a dash of dry wit and of course, some sideways action. The FXX K was the star of the show though, this is a car of which only 40 are made and you can’t simply just buy one.

Top Gear S24 Episode 1

Even though this car will cost you a cool $2,700,000, you need to be invited to buy one, but it’s not all about being rich enough to buy one. You need to have the right ‘mindset’ – whatever that means. Either way, $2,700,000 is a lot of money to hand over, even if you do happen to get your own team of mechanics. The only problem is, like the Pagani Zonda R, it’s not road legal but you can’t enter it in to a race series either. That’s a lot of money for a massive wad of Italian convenience.

RIP Star In A Rallycross Car

Now then. This was a segment I didn’t like in the old show as it simply felt clunky and about as smooth as a piece of old farming machinery. The mismatch of guests often made the whole thing a bit awkward and cringeworthy. Thankfully though, that segment is about as dead as Chris Evans’ Top Gear Career.

Instead, the old traditional Top Gear track is back, which means there is no longer a use for the Mini Rallycross Car. This also means that a new one had to be introduced. Step forward the Toyota GT86, the first rear wheel drive car the stars have had to play about with on Top Gear.

Top Gear S24 Episode 1
Not the ACTUAL GT86, but the actual one isn’t too dissimilar

A few celebrities had already had a go in the new model, with Olympic Gymnast Max Whitlock topping the board. James McAvoy was behind the wheel tonight, but before his lap he had some coaching from Chris Harris, which went…well. McAvoy looked at home in the new car as a weightlifter does in a ballet school, but in his defence it looked chuffing wet out there.

Before we got to see the lap though, McAvoy joined in with some general banter before sticking around as the show’s second film was played. The Star in a Reasonably Fast Car segment came very early on in tonight’s show, so it will be interesting to see if that format sticks. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but the midway point in the show worked well in previous series.

Mile High Club

The main film in tonight’s show took the trio to Borat’s place of birth – Kazakstan. The aim of the game was to buy cars with ludicrously high mileage to see how much life they had left. Harris came over all sensible and purchased a Volvo V70, LeBlanc went for a Mercedes E Class and Reid? Well he went for a London Black Taxi.

The trio took part in some entertaining but worthwhile challenges with Reid grabbing the first win in his black cab. LeBlanc struggled for power, which caused Harris to plough right in the back of him, giving the Volvo a new look…In fact this prang caused the bonnet to fly open every time there was a slight breeze throughout the rest of the film.

Top Gear S24 Episode 1
Top Brew: The trio enjoy a nice hot drink. Source: The Telegraph

The stricken V70 was able to win the second challenge after a game of high mileage car tag, meaning LeBlanc had won exactly nothing. On the plus side, he did find an old David Hasslehoff cassette in the Merc. Oh no wait, that’s not a plus point. Could he fare better any better in the last challenge though? I won’t ruin that one for ya, so I’ll let you see for yourself.

Final Thoughts

Well I have to say the new series of Top Gear has certainly started with its best foot forward and it feels less clunky than last time. The new set looks brilliant and the chemistry between the hosts appears to have come on leaps and bounds. I think Schmitz should have stayed to help give another dynamic to the show, but other than that, there’s not a great deal to fault with the with the first instalment of series 24.

Oh and one more thing – is this the first episode where The Stig hasn’t featured at all?

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